Cesar Montano faces complaint for 'mismanaging' tourism board

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Employees of the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), an office under the Department of Tourism (DOT), filed with the Presidential Action Center (PACE) a complaint against its chief operating officer Cesar Montano over alleged mismanagement and possible corruption.

According to a document obtained by Rappler, Montano allegedly entered into contracts with producers to hold concerts and events where he was one of the performers.

He is also accused of hiring friends and relatives, using public funds for personal travels, and incompetence.

"We are submitting this document to the PACE to formalize what we have observed,  as we have personally witnessed the acts [and] conducts he exhibited on his unbecoming behavior as a government official," the complainants wrote.

"As we write, the TPB management and staff, together with the board members, tourism private sector, and a number of DOT regional directors lost their trust and confidence in the leadership of COO Montano," they added.

Rappler has been trying to get Montano's side but his camp has not responded to any of our calls and text messages.

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Conflict of interest, nepotism

In a report by BusinessMirror, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo was quoted saying, "I told [Cesar Montano] to divest from his films and private companies, as all of us have."

But the complaint filed by TPB employees showed Montano did not heed the DOT chief.

According to the complaint, Montano has yet to submit a Divestment Report which would have identified his interests as an actor, director, and film producer.

Montano reportedly approved contracts for the following concerts and other entertainment activities without considering proper vetting by concerned TPB offices:

"These concerts are in millions of pesos. And these might just bleed the coffers of the TPB dry," the complaint stated.

In a statement on Monday, March 13, Carat Philippines denied the complainants' claim that they are the producers of the February 25 Luneta concert.

"This is far from the truth. The said event was not produced by Carat Philippines. [The company] conducts its business with professionalism, integrity and with its clients’ welfare in mind," it said.

The complaint also said some of the employees Montano brought in were performing redundant functions and are "mostly his team which he maintains as an actor employed to have them salaried by the [TPB]."

Below are his team members and consultants "whose functions are already being rendered by incumbent employees," according to the complainants:

The Administrative Code of 1987 prohibits appointments made in favor of a relative of an authority.

The Code defines the word relatives as those related within the 3rd degree of consanguinity. Rommel Montano directly falls under this category.

According to the Civil Service Commission, nepotism is classified as a grave administrative offense punishable by dismissal from service.

Incompetence, unprofessional behavior

The TPB employees wrote that they are frustrated and disappointed with Montano's leadership and his team "who do not know government procedures."

The complaint stated Montano repeatedly used the office's budget to fund his personal travels, and exhibited unprofessional behavior and incompetence throughout his stint as the tourism promotions head.

According to them, Montano rarely reports to the tourism secretary to align the board's programs with the DOT's. Most of his domestic trips were not part of the office's work program but would later be charged to TPB's funds.

"He exhibits often a change of behavior when there are times he cannot get what he wants immediately and would shout at his staff. He always locks his door and would be heard playing his guitar during office hours," it said.

The last straw, according to the employees, was when Montano left a board of directors meeting that was meant to present the work program of the TPB for rest of the year.

"Succeeding attempts were made by the TBP to call for a board meeting, to no avail. As a result, there is no approved work program as of this writing," it said.

'Not my personal choice'

According to earlier reports, Montano was not the personal choice of Tourism Secretary Teo.

"I was silent because I had another choice, honestly. I have to be frank with everybody: I had another choice. In fact I already submitted the name….I cannot do anything about it since it (Montano’s appointment) is already there,” the tourism chief told the Commission on Appointments December last year.

Teo said the Presidential Management Staff had informed her of Montano’s appointment.

Montano was appointed head of TPB by President Rodrigo Duterte.

He is among the showbiz personalities who actively supported Duterte's presidential bid.– Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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